In the footsteps of Antarctic pioneers

By Helen Hayes 23 May 2023
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Aurora Expeditions has launched the most comprehensive Antarctica program yet, packed with adventures sure to be life changing.

When expedition cruising in a region like Antarctica, experience counts. Aurora Expeditions, an Australian-owned company, has over 32 years of pioneering exploration in these waters, with the company’s founder, Greg Mortimer, setting the bar for icy adventures through deep respect for the early explorers and the environment.

Named in honour of Sir Douglas Mawson’s ship, Aurora Expeditions continues to thrive, and the new Antarctic season for 2024/25 features 25 itineraries, three of them new. The program shines the spotlight on the company’s adventure and exploration heritage, opening up this wild and wondrous world to discerning travellers.

Clockwise from left: King penguins; elephant seals; glacier in Paradise Harbour, Graham Land, Antarctica. Image credits: Tyson Mayr; Jamie Lafferty; Richard I’Anson

The journeys

Aurora Expedition’s program for 2024/25 encompasses 25 voyages ranging from 9–23 days in length, exploring the Antarctic Peninsula, Falkland Islands, South Georgia, and in an exciting addition, the Chilean Fjords. This will be the first time Aurora Expeditions has ventured into this idyllic, ethereal part of the world, with its myriad waterways alive with sea and bird life and spectacular snow-topped mountains.

There are two itineraries to choose from that sail to the mesmerising Chilean Fjords: the 14-day fly/sail Antarctic Explorer featuring the Chilean Fjords voyage and the 13-day Spirit of Antarctica featuring the Chilean Fjords expedition – both departing in March 2025. The Spirit of Antarctica journey, departing 12 November 2024 on board the Sylvia Earle, is a dedicated photographic voyage especially for photography enthusiasts who’ll revel in the unique landscapes, wildlife and the spectacular colours terrifically enhanced by the quality of the natural light. The Antarctic Explorer begins with a flight from Punta Arenas to King George Island – one of the most remote places on Earth. Situated in the South Shetland Islands at the northern part of the Antarctic Peninsula, guests will be transferred to the ship ready to venture into the icy white wonderland that awaits.

The Sylvia Earle and the Chilean Fjords. Image credits: Bartosz Stróżyński and Tyson Mayr

Another new addition is the 20-day In Shackleton’s Footsteps, a sure-to-be epic journey that retraces the historic voyage of the Endurance. The journey will take passengers into the Weddell Sea, where Endurance met her crushing end, to Elephant Island, where Ernest Shackleton and his crew stepped ashore after 497 days at sea. This was an astonishing feat showing incredible seamanship, enormous courage and leadership. The ship will continue in Shackleton’s shadow, heading across to South Georgia over the Scotia Sea. It was here, in January 1922, that Shackleton died on board the ship Quest, at the age of 47. He is buried on the island in the cemetery at Grytviken, a short walk from the fascinating South Georgia Museum. In Shackleton’s Footsteps will depart from Ushuaia in Argentina, on 16 March, 2025.

There is also an opportunity to join Shackleton’s Crossing, a three-day journey across South Georgia from King Haakon Bay to Stromness – once again – in Shackleton’s footsteps.

Ski touring, Yankee harbour summit; Zodiac cruising, Antarctica; passengers on the Greg Mortimer. Image credits: Tarn Pilkington; Jamie Lafferty; Jamie Lafferty; Tyson Mayr

All aboard

As it is the environment that is the star attraction here, travellers will spend more time off the ship, but when they return, they are coming back to all the comforts of home.  The Aurora Expeditions ships, the Greg Mortimer, and the Sylvia Earle – that began her Antarctic voyages in December 2022 – were purpose-built, with the first company in the world to build ships with the Ulstein X-Bow®, designed to cross oceans more comfortably with lower fuel consumption and reduced emissions. The two ships are perfect for small-group exploration, carrying an average of 132 expeditioners – all of which have an ocean view. Aurora is 100 per cent Climate Neutral and the Sylvia Earle has a fully equipped Citizen Science Centre on board, with science programs for guests to enrich their knowledge and connection to the wild places the ship visits.

The Sylvia Earle also boasts Jacuzzis, a gym and sauna, an impressive lecture centre, a library, mudroom, and a Glass Atrium Lounge in the revolutionary bow that is a stunning space to watch the world, or the ocean, go by.

The Greg Mortimer cruising, Antarctica; the observation deck of the Sylvia Earle. Image credits: Tyson Mayr; Aurora Expeditions; Aurora Expeditions.

Action stations

Onboard lectures on both ships are presented by remote area specialists and are informative, entertaining, and will fill your head and heart with a passion to conserve these wild, isolated places that strum on the heartstrings of your emotions. And when you are not exploring some of the world’s most glorious landscapes, you can relax on expansive observation decks, and comfortable and inviting communal areas.

Aurora Expeditions offers a world-leading activity program for passengers, perfected over the years through expertise and experience. As the ships are smaller, passengers can join every excursion, with more one-on-one time with the expedition team immersing in the rugged landscapes through shore landings, Zodiac cruises, tundra hikes, and other activities. There are other optional activities such as snorkelling, scuba diving, kayaking, alpine trekking, camping and sea paddling. Avid skiers and snowboarders will be thrilled to know that Aurora Expeditions offers skiing, snowboarding and ski-touring experiences for an additional charge, which would be a bucket list experience for any snow lover.

Snorkelling in Antarctica – an experience like no other; Try ice camping and set up camp ashore, Antarctica. Image credits: Marcus Westberg; Aurora Expeditions.

Your Antarctica voyage with Aurora Expeditions will be impactful, memorable and indeed, life changing. You will see wildlife previously only seen on documentaries, witness nature’s creativity through seemingly crafted icebergs, ancient glaciers, and soaring mountains, and share it all with your new, lifelong friends and Aurora Expeditions family.

For more information contact your preferred travel advisor or Aurora Expeditions on 1800 637 688 or email [email protected]

Related: Aurora Expeditions debut eco-friendly ship for most remote places on Earth